I once subscribed to the belief that humans are a bad lot — and if given the chance, they would do awful things. But, obviously, things have changed.
The fastest way I have found to get out of that mindset is to go find a widely diverse group of people — and stay away from the typical news sources. Travel, especially by unusual ways, has been the number one slicer through of that incessant negative narrative.
Now, as I sit listening to eighties one hit wonders outside of a movie theater waiting to walk Avry home after I met up with a fellowship I hang around with (thank goodness they are everywhere!), I find my views have completely flipped. People are incredibly kind.
On Bike & Build two women in a clunky car drove down the road and, after a hilariously failed attempt (of our fault) to pass bottles to us while cycling, stopped and gave us cold water. It was crispy hot that day, and the water was heaven, made sweeter by our constant exclamations:
“I can’t believe they did that!”
And, “Aren’t people rad?!?”
Idyllwild is like that one interaction over and over again. People have gone out of their way to be kind — giving us discounts at the health-food store (they have one!!), washing our clothes for free, handing us seven ginormous chocolate chip cookies, connecting us to wifi, and on and on. They smile, they wave, they shoot big gushes of love all over us at every turn.
And the other hikers — they have it too. Our little bubble of happy, tired, grubby souls are known to shout across the street in joy at seeing friends, clap when newcomers arrive (non sarcastically!), and give away free food. They offer information and sympathy easily. We have even been amazed at the amount that Hike Your Own Hike (HYOH is a term bandied around in this world meaning that you should do you and let others do them) actually is adhered to!
I love this outpouring of kindness even more because I can’t help but overflow with it myself. I have so much gratitude it sloshes out of me onto fellow hikers, cashiers, little old ladies creeping by me, leaning hard on their carts in the grocery store. It is delicious.
“This,” I keep saying to myself as I try to stop my heart from taking me skipping straight down River View Drive (unseemly behavior), “this is what it is like to live.”